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Free Farm Stand

I have a dog, so I spend a lot of time walking around the neighborhood on the weekends and checking out what’s going on. I live in the Mission so oftentimes there’s a lot of weird stuff happening—just last week I walked past a brass band in full effect on 18th Street, followed by separate sightings of two people wearing their pajamas—at 4 p.m. on a Saturday.

But those walks are also where I reconnect with what is great about our city. Last Sunday, walking past the Parque Unidos at the corner of 23rd and Treat streets, I saw a sign advertising a free farm stand in the park.  I noted the small crowd gathered around a very nice-looking display of fruits and vegetables. Turns out it’s just a local guy by the name of Tree who, he wrote to me via email, “wants to be part of that movement of supporting local food growing as much as possible, and to also keep in mind people who can’t afford to buy organic produce.”

His way of supporting local foods and combating food elitism is the Free Farm Stand, a month-old project that’s basically a place where, once a week, “gardeners and urban farmers can bring extra organic produce that they grow or glean (like from fruit trees that overproduce) and share it with other gardeners and also with people on tight budgets of low incomes or people without access to gardens.”

In other words, every Sunday he sets up a table in the park and loads the table with organic fruits and vegetables, and then he gives them away. Some of the vegetables come from his own garden, but many come from the gardens of others in the community—six lemons here, a pint of berries there, nasturtiums and salad greens, a small basket of loquats from a Mission backyard. He also distributes seedlings so people who have space can grow their own produce—and then give the surplus back to the stand. Not only does the Free Farm Stand provide good food, it also promotes community, gets neighbors to work together and encourages the sharing of resources.


The Free Farm Stand bounty one recent Sunday: green garlic,
carrots, sprouts, citrus, salad greens and more!

If you’re interested in helping out the Farm Stand, Tree says he’s always looking for any locally grown organic produce you might be willing to contribute (no amount is too small!), seeds of all kinds (especially lettuce, kale and mustards), a restaurant-style stainless steel deep sink so he can wash the harvest in the garden and reuse the water and…here’s the biggie…a underutilized sunny space in the Mission to start a mini-farm for the stand. Got any of that? Veggies and seeds can be dropped by the stand on Sundays, and Tree can be contacted via his website should you be able to provide any of the other wish list items.